What makes a Step-Up Instrument?
We've discussed the basics of what makes a step-up level instrument different from the instrument you rent for your student musician. Now, we will be discussing how to select a step-up instrument that is best for your musician.
When upgrading, the number one factor most people consider is cost. Cost is very important, but also a bit deceptive during this process. The most expensive instrument may not be the best for you, while the least expensive may not be the worst. Once you have decided on an approximate budget for your upgrade, there are usually many different varieties of models and brands to choose from. The biggest part you can do for your musician is to come in and have them test the instruments.
Everyone has a different method they prefer to use to help test and select instruments, so I will be covering and explain how our Frisco location goes through this. We like to do what is called the “Eye Test”, similar to what you do at an optometrist. Starting with the musician’s instrument, we have them play a simple scale, something that they are very comfortable with so as to prevent the sound changing from what they consider normal. We always try to avoid long passages during this part of the testing so that the musician is focusing on the sound of the instrument rather than the music itself. We then will have them start with the first step-up instrument they are trying out and have them do the exact same scale. After comparing sounds, we ask which instrument they liked better: 1 or 2. We repeat this process with all the instruments being tried out until we get down to 2 or 3. At this point, the remaining instruments are what the musician says and feel that they play the best on.
With the last few instruments in hand, we ask the musician to play a variety of things: high and low pitches, faster rhythms, etc. This part of the process takes some time, multiple visits even! Sometimes we can loan the instruments to the private lesson teacher so that the student can test them in front of someone who is very experienced with the instrument itself and the student’s playing style. After all of these steps, the musician arrives at what instrument that they feel makes them the best musician they can be.
Next we will discuss the differences in specific instruments going from student level to step-up.